Before going to Salta I read lots of comments of people traveling there and it was really helpful for us, I thought I´d share some of our travel stories.
First and foremost-dont hesitate to RENT A CAR! For us this was a really really tough decision because we thought maybe the roads would be impossible, we´d be nickel and dimed at the rental agencies, etc etc. For us, it worked out SO smooth and it´s something I would highly suggest.
We went with Hertz (possibly paid a little more) but couldn’t have been happier. They cover all damages, didn’t care the least about scratches or dents-the only thing they checked for was that the spare tire was there and in working order (which is really a benefit to the driver anyway). We rented it for 4 days and brought it back late morning of the 4th day and they even gave us money back for the 4th day because we didn’t use it the whole day!!
Having the freedom of our own care was invaluable. We were able to stop when we wanted (which happened to be every 5 minutes to take pictures), be on our own schedule, and were able to see things and places that we otherwise wouldn’t have been able to see.
Our trip was unfortunately cut short by a day because of airline cancellations (ash) but what can you do?
The drive from Salta to Purmamarca is winding, and by far the hardest roads we encountered, it´s very small and very winding but beautiful. I expected Salta to all be red clay and rock, and this was going through the lush green forest!! The roads are all paved, however, so we didn’t feel unsafe, just that we needed to take it a little slower...which was fine because it was so pretty anyway.
Staying the night in Purmamarca was one of the best decisions, simply because waking up there and watching the sun rise over the cerro de siete colores is BREATHTAKING. We stayed at “El Cardon” (you can see my review of the place) and it was excellent. We had a room on the second floor and got to watch the sun come over the mountain-it illuminated it like nothing I’ve ever seen before, really really spectacular. I would suggest just spending the hour between 9:00 am and 10:00am sitting there and watching the sun come down over it…it´s unreal.
That day we went to the Salinas Grandes which are really interesting. I haven’t seen any others before so I’m not too sure how they compare to others in the world, but it´s worth it, I thought!
That day we drove back to Salta and stayed the night. Somehow we took the wrong road out of Jujuy and ended up coming back on a highway instead of through the jungle. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise because we didn’t have to come back through the windy roads at dusk, I would suggest looking into this and taking the highway back to Salta from Jujuy rather than the winding roads…that is if you are doing it at dusk/evening.
Well, we didn’t make it to Cafayate because the drive was much longer than expected but it didn’t matter, the drive from Salta to Cachi is worth it. I´m not kidding when I say that when going through the parquet de cardones my 58 year old father cried it was so beautiful. The park is UNREAL, looking at a 180 degree perspective you see anything from flat, grasslands to red mountains, to snowcapped mountains, to cacti…it´s hands down one of the prettiest things I´ve ever seen.
We stayed in Cachi that night-rented a cabin, cooked out on the grill, and went back to Salta the following day.
Going into the trip I knew it would be pretty and nice but I really had no idea how nice it would be. If you have any doubts about going to Salta—Don’t! Go, easily you can spend a week, don’t think you´ll get bored…the Northwest is WELL WORTH THE TRIP!